Eight clinical conundrums relating to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in sport: Recent evidence and a personal reflection

Section of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Stockholm Center for Sports Trauma Research, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
British Journal of Sports Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.03). 08/2012; 47(6). DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091623
Source: PubMed


Over two million anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur worldwide annually, and the greater prevalence for ACL injury in young female athletes is one of the major problems in sports medicine. Optimal treatment of ACL injury requires individualised management. Patient selection is of utmost importance, and so is respect for the patient's functional demands and interests. All patients with an ACL tear may not need surgery, however athletes and persons with an active lifestyle with high knee functional demands including cutting motions need and should be offered surgery. In many cases it may not be the choice of graft or technique that is the key for success, but the choice of surgeon. The surgeon should be experienced and use a reconstructive procedure he/she knows very well and is comfortable with. The development of osteoarthritis after an ACL injury depends very much on the injury mechanism and concurrent meniscal injury, as knee articular cartilage continues to heal for 1-2 years after an ACL injury. Therefore the surgeon and rehabilitation team must pay attention to the rehabilitation process and to the decision when to return to sport. Return to sport must be carefully considered, as top-level sport in itself is one main risk factor for osteoarthritis after ACL injury. The present criteria for return to sport need to be revisited, also due to the fact that recurrent injury seems to be an increasing problem. ACL injury prevention programmes are now available in some sports. The key issue for a prevention programme to be successful is proper implementation. Vital factors for success include the individual coaching of the player and well controlled compliance with the training programme. Preventive activities should be more actively supported by the involved athletic community. Despite substantial advances in the field of ACL injury over the past 40 years, substantial management challenges remain.

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    • "Worldwide it is estimated that over 2 million anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur annually (Renstrom, 2013). These injuries are devastating to athletic careers and expensive to repair and rehabilitate , as conservative estimates place the cost of an ACL reconstruction (ACLR) surgery at $17,000 plus rehabilitation (Hewett et al., 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Investigators use in vitro joint simulations to invasively study the biomechanical behaviors of the anterior cruciate ligament. The aims of these simulations are to replicate physiologic conditions, but multiple mechanisms can be used to drive in vitro motions, which may influence biomechanical outcomes. The objective of this review was to examine, summarize, and compare biomechanical evidence related to anterior cruciate ligament function from in vitro simulations of knee motion. A systematic review was conducted (2004 to 2013) in Scopus, PubMed/Medline, and SPORTDiscus to identify peer-reviewed studies that reported kinematic and kinetic outcomes from in vitro simulations of physiologic or clinical tasks at the knee. Inclusion criteria for relevant studies were articles published in English that reported on whole-ligament anterior cruciate ligament mechanics during the in vitro simulation of physiologic or clinical motions on cadaveric knees that were unaltered outside of the anterior-cruciate-ligament-intact, -deficient, and -reconstructed conditions. A meta-analysis was performed to synthesize biomechanical differences between the anterior-cruciate-ligament-intact and reconstructed conditions. 77 studies met our inclusion/exclusion criteria and were reviewed. Combined joint rotations have the greatest impact on anterior cruciate ligament loads, but the magnitude by which individual kinematic degrees of freedom contribute to ligament loading during in vitro simulations is technique-dependent. Biomechanical data collected in prospective, longitudinal studies corresponds better with robotic-manipulator simulations than mechanical-impact simulations. Robotic simulation indicated that the ability to restore intact anterior cruciate ligament mechanics with anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions was dependent on loading condition and degree of freedom examined. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon)
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To summarize the current evidence of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-measured cartilage adaptations following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and of the potential factors that might influence these changes, including the effect of treatment on the course of cartilage change (i.e., surgical vs non-surgical treatment). Methods: A literature search was conducted in seven electronic databases extracting 12 full-text articles. These articles reported on in vivo MRI-related cartilage longitudinal follow-up after ACL injury and reconstruction in "young" adults. Eligibility and methodological quality was rated by two independent reviewers. A best-evidence synthesis was performed for reported factors influencing cartilage changes. Results: Methodological quality was heterogenous amongst articles (i.e., score range: 31.6-78.9%). Macroscopic changes were detectable as from 2 years follow-up next to or preceded by ultra-structural and functional (i.e., contact-deformation) changes, both in the lateral and medial compartment. Moderate-to-strong evidence was presented for meniscal lesion or meniscectomy, presence of bone marrow lesions (BMLs), time from injury, and persisting altered biomechanics, possibly affecting cartilage change after ACL reconstruction. First-year morphological change was more aggravated in ACL reconstruction compared to non-surgical treatment. Conclusion: In view of osteoarthritis (OA) prevention after ACL reconstruction, careful attention should be paid to the rehabilitation process and to the decision on when to allow return to sports. These decisions should also consider cartilage fragility and functional adaptations after surgery. In this respect, the first years following surgery are of paramount importance for prevention or treatment strategies that aim at impediment of further matrix deterioration. Considering the low number of studies and the methodological caveats, more research is needed.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
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    ABSTRACT: Anterior Cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are one of the most common and devastating knee injuries sustained whilst participating in sport. ACL reconstruction (ACLR) remains the standard approach for athletes who aim to return to high level sporting activities but the outcome from surgery is not assured. Secondary morbidities and an inability to return to the same competitive level are common following ACLR. One factor which might be linked to these sub-optimal outcomes may be a failure to have clearly defined performance criteria for return to activity and sport. This paper presents a commentary describing a structured return to sport rehabilitation protocol for athletes following ACLR. The protocol was developed from synthesis of the available literature and consensus of physiotherapists and strength and conditioning coaches based in the home country Institute of Sports within the United Kingdom.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Physical therapy in sport: official journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine
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